Call these among the worst predictions made:
- “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” [Ken Olsen, Founder, Chairman and President of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977.]
- “640KB (of memory) ought to be enough for anyone.” [Bill Gates.]
- “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” [Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943.]
- “Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit voice over wires and that, were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.” [Boston Post 1865.]
- “While the Americans might need such a daft thing, Britain still has plenty of small boys to run around with messages.” [John Tilley, Britain’s Post Master General in 1876, commenting on Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone which was patented that year.]
- “The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” [Western Union internal memo 1876.]
- “In the mid-70s, someone came to me with an idea for what was basically the PC. The idea was that we would outfit an 8080 processor with a keyboard and a monitor and sell it in the home market. I asked: ‘What’s it good for?’ And the only answer was that a housewife could keep her recipes on it. I personally didn’t see anything useful in it, so we never gave it another thought.” [Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel.]
- “Next Christmas the iPod will be dead, finished, gone, kaput.” [Sir Alan Sugar, February 2005.]
- Google won’t make it — ‘Let’s see if they still want to run the business in two or three years.’ [Bill Gates, on Sergey Brin and Larry Page, 2003.]
All those examples illustrate that it is impossible to know the future — even the short-term future. So all those predictions being made today about what will life be like in the next 12 months? And what changes or additions will be made in your life? And what God will do in the coming year? It’s impossible to tell. No man knows the future — no palm reader, no crystal ball, no horoscope, and no bio-rhythm chart. Many will be attempting today and this month to peer into the future to see what events might occur in the next 12 months. But no one knows the future. Tea-leaves are only good for making tea, not revealing the future and fortune cookies are only helpful as an after dinner favor, not for informing of impending fortune. Only God knows the future.
That being said, we do know that there are a variety of kinds of circumstances that we undoubtedly will face in life in the coming 12 months. We do not know the specifics, but we can anticipate the generalities. We know that we will be happy and laugh, we will be sad and afraid, we will be weary and have to sleep, and will face some kind of illness — anything from a simple cold or allergy to cancer or heart disease. We will hear of good news and favor for others and we will hear tragic tales of despair and feel hopeless to help. We know, that despite all our best intentions on this first morning of the year that we will sin. And all these events are to produce maturity in us.
First Peter 1:13 says that we are to “prepare our minds for action…” Because of what Christ has done for us, we are to prepare ourselves for the sufferings of Christ and the glorious things to come in eternity. We are to be prepared for any eventuality of life so that what happens will produce God-desired maturity.
So here’s a basic principle for preparing for the coming year: In all the events of your life, prepare to grow spiritually. In everything that could, should, and might happen in the coming days, be purposeful to use them to cling to God more fully.
What are the kinds of things that await all of us this year? Here is a list of ten things that you will undoubtedly face and how to use them to grow in Christ. Be attentive to what is coming and purposeful in your responses to these eventualities.
- In the coming year, you will sin. You probably won’t make it past today without sinning (consider 1 Cor. 10:31). Because that is true, plan now to repent. Cultivate now — before you sin — an attitude and desire that is quick to confess and that is desirous of transformation. And then be aggressive and quick to genuinely repent (2 Cor. 7:9-10; 1 Jn. 1:9; Js. 5:16). Obviously we want to sin as little as possible. But we will not be sinless on earth. Which means that we must be quick to repent instead of quick to defend, excuse, and justify our sin.
- In the coming year, you will be sinned against. Be ready to forgive that sin. Do not harbor bitterness and anger and resentment. God is using the sin of others in your life to shape you into the image of Christ. Like Christ, be ready to forgive when confession is offered (Prov. 19:11; Lk. 17:3; Eph. 4:31-32).
- In the coming year, you will observe the sins of others. Many of us are reticent to do this, but it may be that we have been privileged to observe the sin of another that we can be the ministering agent of gracious confrontation (Mt. 18:15ff; 2 Sam. 12:1ff). That’s not often our first impulse, but it is a godly impulse, and we are wise to follow it.
- In the coming year, you will have some opportunities for success. Do not treasure the success more than you treasure Christ. And do not suppose that God is only “good” when you are blessed with “treasures” and not as good when you are not. God is always good and sometimes He also graces us with extras. “Success” can lead us to idolatry, if we are not careful. (There are pressures and expectations and demands that come with success that are far more costly than most of us realize.) So never let the accumulation of the trappings of success confuse you about the centrality of Christ. He is our life. If we have Christ, and nothing else, we are successful; if we have everything and do not have (fellowship with) Him, we are unsuccessful.
- In the coming year, you will have some measure of failure and you will experience some lack. We are particularly aware of this reality because of the economy, but this is always true. Our failures (which are not necessarily sin) will always result in ongoing needs and loss of what we have. Do not despair. As a believer, you have treasures and blessings that cannot be taken away, that are being preserved and kept by the sovereign God, and that will never rust or decay. Be content with what God has allotted you. If you have food and covering, you have enough. Godliness is of far more value (can you say, “eternal value?”) than earthly gain (1 Pet. 1:3-9; 1 Tim. 6:6-8).
- In the coming year, you will have ministry opportunities for which you feel inadequate. It is good to experience inadequacy because we are inadequate in ourselves for every task given to us by God. And the sooner we recognize our inadequacy, we will flee to God in dependence on Him, and find that He will equip and prepare and sustain us in all that He calls us to do. Remember 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6. Our inadequacy is designed to make us recognize God’s adequacy.
- In the coming year, you will have ministry opportunities for which you feel adequate. Do not be deceived. You adequacy is not in yourself. Whatever you do, you do only by the grace and empowerment of God (2 Cor. 4:7). Never forget that what is valuable is what is inside you — the treasure of the gospel; what is valuable is not you yourself — every servant is only a common vessel, a 99¢ clay pot from Lowes. Be grateful for encouragement and affirmation that comes from “successful” service, but don’t ever be confused about who is doing the work — it is the grace of God and the Holy Spirit (Phil. 2:13).
- In the coming year, you will have some measure of suffering. It may be an illness, or the death of a loved one, or the loss of some position or possession, or an attack on your character, but in some way, you will experience an opportunity to lament and grieve. Here are three principles to guide you in your suffering:
- In every trial, God will sustain you (2 Tim 4:17-18).
- In every loss, you have an opportunity to fill up and demonstrate the sufferings of Christ to a watching world.
- In every suffering, you have an opportunity to experience the fellowship of Christ that cannot be known without that suffering (1 Cor. 10:13; Phil. 3:8-11).
- In the coming year, you will have questions that seem unanswerable. The Bible may not give answers to every question of life (“Should I marry Sally or Sue?” “Should I move to Tacoma or Tucumcari?”). But the Bible does provide us with truth that will change our hearts and minds and make us to know the Lord. And as we know Him and experience His transforming grace in our lives, we will desire to please Him in all things and that will produce decisions that are wise. So delight yourself in Him and desire Him more than anything else, and you will make decisions that will reflect the wisdom of wanting Him more than anything else — and questions will then be answered (Ps. 27:4, 8; 37:4-5; Rom. 12:1-2).
- In the coming year, cultivate gratitude in all things. First Thessalonians 5:16-18 is not written in a vacuum. It is written to a church that is suffering (1 Thess. 1:6; Acts 17:3ff). Be grateful. In everything. God has decreed and willed this for you. Be grateful because:
- God is transforming you into the likeness of Christ.
- You cannot lose what has been given to you by Christ.
- You experience the sustaining grace of Christ every day.
- You become an instrument of grace to others.
In summary, remember that in all the events of the coming year, God is weaving them together to produce your spiritual maturity. God is far more concerned in making our character godly than our lives comfortable. And He uses all the circumstances of our lives to produce conformity to Christ (Romans 8:28-29).